"Best Practice" in Living Donation: Quality? Quantity? Access? Pace? Yes!
There is little disagreement that transplantation is the preferable treatment option for most individuals with advanced renal insufficiency or renal failure, and that living donor kidney transplantation offers significant benefits compared to deceased donor kidney transplantation. Why is it, then, that the number of living donor kidney transplants performed in the United States has remained stagnant over the past decade?
An important approach to extending the option of living donor renal transplantation to more patients would be to identify both the barriers to living kidney donation/transplantation and the practices of highly effective groups, and disseminate that information to the transplant community. This is exactly the task taken on by the AST Living Donor Community of Practice.
I found the results of their conference so impressive that I wanted them shared with the AST membership. What follows is a summary of that meeting.
Best Practices in Living Donation
In the rare ‘easy consensus’ of the transplant world, we can agree that live donor kidney transplantation is the best treatment option for most patients with late-stage CKD. Consequently, the declining rate of living kidney donation in the US has been confounding. In spite of this, novel strategies to remove barriers to living donation have neither been effectively disseminated nor widely implemented. To address these issues, a consensus conference was held June 5-6, 2014 to identify best practices and knowledge gaps pertaining to live donor kidney transplantation and living kidney donation. Initiated by the AST Living Donor Community of Practice, and built with the support of the AST Board (as well as other entities), the conference ultimately partnered 11 professional societies and 67 participants representing transplant professionals, patients, and other stakeholders. Individual workgroups (who prepared for months in advance) discussed processes for living kidney donation education; efficiencies in process; disparities in living donation; and financial and systemic barriers. The clinical, policy, and research recommendations are outlined below:
- Adopt the philosophical approach that LDKT is the best option, with education integrated throughout disease progression and treatment process
- Develop a culture supporting the LKD program, including dedicated living donor personnel, a streamlined process, careful evaluation of medically complex donors, and participation in KPD (or referral)
- Implement an independent, national educational website for patients and the general public. Include a LKD Financial Toolkit.
- Develop a process to ensure that transplantation specialists, community nephrologists, and primary care providers attain competency in LDKT educational content and approaches
- Provide more culturally-tailored LDKT education
- Systematically review live donor metrics to measure efficiencies and improve quality
- Actively pursue policies that achieve financial neutrality for living donors, within the framework of federal law
- Improve and clarify CMS auditing of current transplant education within dialysis centers
- Expand OPTN policy pertaining to required educational elements for potential living donors, to include the evolving evidence base of the potential longterm risks associated with living kidney donation (e.g., ESRD risk, future pregnancy).
- Examine effectiveness of strategies to optimize informed decision-making
- Evaluate impact of strategies to strengthen partnerships between community nephrology, dialysis centers, and transplant programs
- Evaluate QI initiatives to optimize the donor evaluation process and experience
- Examine strategies to reduce financial barriers
Recommendations were broad and far-reaching, with more detail here.
Participants are to be commended for effectively identifying best practices in living kidney donation as well as ambitious efforts to disseminate and implement them in the transplant, ESRD, and CKD communities. We encourage all readers to participate, and to join the AST LDCOP.
Living Donor Community of Practice
Rebecca Hays, MSW APSW, University of Wisconsin Hospital – Chair
Dianne LaPointe Rudow, ANP DNP, Mount Sinai Medical Center - Past Chair
Jim Rodrigue, PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center - Committee Member